The balance between introspection and productivity is hard to achieve, especially if you are a creative in the midst of a pandemic. Fortunately, for South Florida’s indie-music lovers, Millionyoung (AKA Mike Diaz) was able to get the best out of his time in isolation.
Composed during quarantine as a way to cope with being isolated from loved ones and not being able to perform live, the five-track EP, Moments, is due out on April 2. Diaz wrote and produced most of the tracks in his bedroom studio, sometimes grabbing inspiration from voice memos recorded while driving through Miami's empty streets.
“I like to drive around and record harmonies, and sometimes those voice notes will make it as a layer in a song. It’s part of the process that goes into it,” Diaz says.
For the musician, driving through downtown Miami during a lockdown felt like out of a scene of a postapocalyptic movie.
“It was a very surreal feeling that you would get to see a place in such a different condition, under different circumstances than what you are used to seeing," he shares. "It’s like a dreamlike situation, almost.”
The EP's first single, "Less," was released last month, featuring a hazy backdrop and lyrics that yearn for companionship. "I keep missing you every day/Still searching through all the ways/We could go back to then," Diaz sings longingly in the first verse. The follow-up, "Free," which is set to drop Friday, continues the theme of introspection. "So let go/Of what you know/That you don’t need/And you’ll feel so free," he sings before breaking into a tropical beat.
Diaz had begun working on a full-length album at the end of 2019, but when the social scenario changed last March, he decided to focus on new material that reflected his current state of mind.
“When all of this stuff happened, I was in a different headspace, so I decided to make an EP with a vibe that reflects more of what I was going through recently,” he explains.
Thinking about his family and own experience, Diaz says, he penned some of his most personal work for Moments.
“Usually, for my other records, I sing about other people and other things, and other narratives float in,” he says.
Musically, the songs on the EP feature elements from R&B, Miami bass, lo-fi, chillwave, and vaporwave. But one element remains a constant: the cinematographic feel Diaz imparts. It's easy for a listener to imagine Diaz's compositions on the soundtrack of a Miami Vice episode — almost like a contemporary take on vintage Phil Collins.
One silver lining with respect to the lockdown? It helped Diaz finish recording Moments much more quickly than he normally would have.
“Usually, records take me longer to write," he admits. "This one came together faster because I had more time to work on it.”
During the lockdown, Diaz didn’t only write a new EP — he also started Pet Tapes, a Miami-born DIY cassette label.
“Pet Tapes is just something that I’ve wanted to do for a while," he says. "It’s not so much a label — it’s more like a collective of bands. I help bands put out tapes, and we help each other and promote each other’s releases.”
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